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Old 10-04-2012, 09:53 AM   #1
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Default Discussion: False Bottom Alternatives

When I first went AG, I had some money and lots of space. I started out with a copper manifold in a huge cooler. The biggest barleywines or Imperial Stouts were no match for my Coleman Extreme MLT. The homemade copper manifold worked really well. A couple of elbow fittings and a little time spent with a hacksaw yielded a great little filter. (Pro tip: if you put the copper elbows in a vise or vise-grips and squeeze gently, you can enable a really tight friction fit that holds up in the MLT, but can be broken down for cleaning). The downside to the copper device was that the edges were a little jagged and sometimes stuff got in there that was hard to clean... and it was generally advisable to break it down and clean it between uses... But I never had a stuck sparge and overall, I feel this is a really awesome option for large or oddly-shaped MLT's.

Then I downsized as I started brewing in an apartment. I started out with the trusty old stainless mesh sleeve made from the stainless mesh wrap around a water line. Ugh. The problems with it were: Not enough mass- it would get jostled around in the mash and try to work itself loose. Sharp pointy ends were a bit of an annoyance. It created stuck sparges the 3 times I used it. Overall, I guess this can work with some tweaking, but there's a lot better things out there.

I never tried a genuine false bottom. One of the things I don't like about them is the plastic tubing from the MLT to the outlet. As you stir your mash, it's going to get knocked about. Sure, you can just add some hose clamps... Two more things to take off when you want to clean it. Some of them do offer solid connections to your output. But now we're talking about pretty pricey stuff. And still, removing it to clean doesn't look hard, but it doesn't look pleasant either.

I was desperate for a better option. Just for a simple 5 gallon Coleman round cooler.

Finally, I stumbled upon this:


I got it from my LHBS for a couple of bucks more than NB's price of $17.50, but I was happy to buy it from them. After all, it wasn't until I actually saw it up close that I realized that it was exactly what I was looking for! I just had to have it!!! It made so much sense! A screw connection rather than worm clamps and tubing- just twist it a couple of times and off it comes. Rigid mesh rather than the collapsible stainless mesh tubing- no worries about stuck sparges or knocking it around at the bottom of a full MLT. It is beefy and can easily withstand a bit of a beating from a plastic mash paddle. The price is less than half of most false bottoms and it is far easier to set up and remove. This is the ultimate in simplicity... for about twenty bucks.

Now, I'm sure those with fancy false bottoms will rave about their efficiency and whatnot... I get it, honestly. It's a cool bit of kit, but seems a bit finicky. And those with SS mesh made from a simple steel-belted water hose have a lot that deserves to be said about cost-savings and DIY, but again, it's finicky. And those with copper manifolds can customize the shape to their heart's content and that's pretty close to the ideal DIY option.

But for twenty bucks, I really think the mash/boil screen offers the best bang-for-the-buck.

79% efficiency on my first use and I never got close to a stuck sparge. For full disclosure, I must say that I mill my own grains and have what would be considered a somewhat tight crush. However, I'm nudging 80% efficiency right now with this thing and it couldn't be simpler to install and use.

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Old 10-04-2012, 11:52 AM   #2
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I currently use one of those as well but I am planning to upgrade to a false bottom. The reason is that I mash in a kettle and with that it sits about 1-2 inch from the bottom equating to about a gallon of dead space. Also do o not use that thing with pellet hops. They will clog it up. I agree it is a great price. The company that makes that also makes a weldless ball valve fitting that works great. I currently use it on my HLT.

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Old 10-04-2012, 02:43 PM   #3
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Its called a bazooka tube.

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Old 10-04-2012, 02:54 PM   #4
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You can get a stainless steel braided toilet supply line and cut off the ends, push out the hose, and then you have a filter that works really well. Same concept as the bazooka tube, but about $10 cheaper. Attach that to your valve, crimp the other end, & you're golden.

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Old 10-04-2012, 03:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HandyBrewer View Post
You can get a stainless steel braided toilet supply line and cut off the ends, push out the hose, and then you have a filter that works really well. Same concept as the bazooka tube, but about $10 cheaper. Attach that to your valve, crimp the other end, & you're golden.
Yes, but as the OP pointed out, that supply line is not rigid and is prone to collapse.
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Old 10-04-2012, 04:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by modernlifeisANDY View Post
Yes, but as the OP pointed out, that supply line is not rigid and is prone to collapse.
Get some copper ground wire from home depot and wrap around a pencil or similar object and make a spring like thing and pus it thru the braided supply line it will keep it from getting smashed
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:32 PM   #7
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You can fix your copper manifold with a small triangle file. I just rinse mine off. It’s not often that I take it apart. I fly sparge into a colander and a bottling bucket.

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Old 10-04-2012, 05:42 PM   #8
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Used a braid in a t-loop for several brews now, never had a stuck-sparge but it does get slow when the grain bed is compacted near the end of runoffs. Doesn't bother me, though. I do have a short section of reinforced vinyl tubing, maybe 4" to position the loop more in the center of the cooler, but it's never come off with the worm clamps. I loosen one worm clamp, remove it, run water through the nipple backwards, and that's it. I don't worry about a tiny piece of husk stuck to it or anything. It's going to get exposed to 185* water when I preheat my tun and the wort will then be boiled.

I have considered adding the copper "spring" inside as I wonder if it's getting crushed and thus the slow runoff, but again, never been stuck and my efficiency is consistently 80%.

I can attest that if you use a kettle screen, there's just about nothing that will stop pellet hops.

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Old 10-04-2012, 05:58 PM   #9
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I use the standard "toilet water line braid" and to keep it from being jostled around I put a stainless steel plug in which weighs it down. Never had a stuck sparge (I batch sparge), and never have crushed the braid even with a larger grainbill.
Just place the plug in the end you would crimp and secure it with stainless hose clamps. Works great lasts a long time.
For what it's worth, I mash in a 10 gallon round Rubbermaid. Good luck!

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Old 10-04-2012, 06:52 PM   #10
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I have a mash kettle screen in my MLT and I works great. Easy to clean, never a stuck sparge, cheap and easy.

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